The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier
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  1. #1
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    Default The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    There are a billion little secrets the old timers use that make beekeeing easier. This thread is to give them a chance to share that secret knowledge. Its the things they do without even thinking about it that make the new beekeepers go "Ah, why didn't I think of that" So I will lead off with the few that I know:

    1. When using telescoping covers, flip it over and set it on the ground upside down and set the first box you remove diagonally on it. It wont crush as many bees and won't get dirt, grass etc on the bottom of the box and frames

    2. When picking the box off the inverted lid, put your foot on the lid to easily seperate the box from the lid.

    3. For whole hive inspections, remove all but the bottom box to your "stack". Inspect the bottom box first, then inpsect the top box on your stack. Ths lets the bees fly back to the bottom box, after you are done with each box, place it back in its original position and inspect the next one. This also does not allow the queen to run away into another box while you are looking for her.

    4. Carry multiple hive tools. after you crush a certain amount of bees with one, it is covered with alarm pheremone and just incites a riot.

    5. Slide frames back in by sliding the endbars against the adjoining frame instead of placing the frame in boax and sliding it against the adjoining frame. Crush less bees this way

    6. take one frame out from the edge and lean it against the hive, then after you inspect the next frame, move it to the previous frames position. Once you have inspected all of them, place the frame leaning against the hive in the position of the last frame inspected, it will now be on the opposite side of the hive, but you will not have to move the frames again.

    7. Look for eggs and uncapped larva instead of wasting time trying to find the queen.

    8. Once you see eggs, you can stop looking for the queen.

    9. The faster you need to carry out inspections the more protective gear you will need.

    10. The more intrusive you are into the bood nest, the more defensive the bees become, don't go there unless you need too.

    11. Learn to light your smoker (I use a charcol lighter, lite the fuel at teh bottom, get it flaming and add more fuel. Puff the smoker the entire time you are adding fuel) If you get enough "coals" built up, it will stay lit.

    12. Plug the smoke hole up when done for the day, it snuffs the smoker and conserves fuel.

    I am sure the veterans out there have many many more that are much better, please share!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Napa, CA
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Thanks for taking the time to post that! Those things that most of us will all learn eventually, save heartache in the beginning.

    That pheromone hive-tool and insert frame with no-squish are great tips to a no-bee'er.

    Thank you,

    Mark

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    hey I just learned number 3 last weekend when I saw the guy do it and he explained why I was like why didn't I think of that. # 5 works great if you have straight comb. If you like to swim against the current and run a bunch of foundationless your first yr against everyones advice, it's a good way to roll the queen as sometimes they only fit back together like a jig saw puzzle. # 6 Can't believe I never thought about that, but then again see my problems with number 5 LOL Oh why oh why did I try running a bunch of foundationless from the gate? LOL

  5. #4
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    ...as sometimes they only fit back together like a jig saw puzzle. # 6 Can't believe I never thought about that, but then again see my problems with number 5 LOL Oh why oh why did I try running a bunch of foundationless from the gate? LOL
    If that is the case, then once you have the 9 in there (which will be in the original orientation and placements in relation to each other, use your hive tool in a twisting motion between the side of the box and that second frame to force the whole stack back to their original positions, then re-insert the first frame where it was to start with.

  6. #5
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    Jun 2010
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    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Don't feed your package too much syrup or they may swarm! When they start storing it, remove the feeder. Watch conditions and feed if they need it again.

    Don't feed syrup with an entrance feeder (boardman), but instead put water in that feeder and place in entrance.

    Keep a cool whip bowl with you to scrape wax into and another one for propolis.

    Get your kids and other family members involved!

    Take notes because you will forget.

    Make a jig to use for frame or box assembly.

    Always wear a veil or at least a mosquito head net tucked into shirt. A baseball cap may keep the veil off your face.

    Only scrape the propolis off certain areas........ the shoulders of the frames so they fit together, the "rail" that the frame ears rest on, bottom of frame ear. Clean up is easy in cold weather as the equipment not being used can be scraped easily when the propolis is cold.

    When painting hive boxes, thread them on a pole between two ladders. The boxes can be rotated easily.

    Learn when your area has flows and dearth time.

    If a beekeeper dies, don't forget to tell his bees.
    Is it summer yet?

  7. #6
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Bliss View Post
    If a beekeeper dies, don't forget to tell his bees.
    That's a classic! I am mostly posting here so i can stay in the loop, get notification when this gets updated.
    Thanks all!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Placer County, CA
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    This is a great thread!
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  9. #8
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    Mar 2015
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    Bolivar NY
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Great ideas!! Keep them coming. Might save newbies like me some grief

  10. #9
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Bliss View Post
    If a beekeeper dies, don't forget to tell his bees.
    Tell them any important life event. I do. Sounds crazy but something about it satisfies my soul.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  11. #10
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    I would add that you should pay attention to what's going on at the entrance of each hive. Correlating what you see there with what you find inside gives incredible insight into your colony just by watching them come and go.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  12. #11
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    Tell them any important life event. I do. Sounds crazy but something about it satisfies my soul.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telling_the_bees

  13. #12
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Just bumping this up to see if some of the veterans will chime in with some more of the little things that make a big difference. Because right now it only looks like there are 24 not billions.......

    25. Work the hives from behind.
    26. Hive stands higher than 12" result in hives too tall to comfortably work by end of flow.
    27. A watch is just a sting target, especially under the band. Take it off, you don't have time to check it anyway
    28. A grease pencil to write on the hive top to note hive conditions is priceless on the next inspection.
    29. Paper towels stuffed in the entrance work just fine for closing the bees in for one night or day.

    But what I really want to hear are those things that you do every day that save you steps and time and stings.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Assume the unexpected. Try to have a least a couple spare supers. One empty, and one with drawn comb or foundation. If you find the queen or queen cells, you can easily set either aside ( in the empty) and continue with whatever you were doing, or pause and figure out "What am I going to do now?". Spare frames can go back in, as needed, or fill out a queen cell nuc, or replace a full frame for needed space, or...

    At the 2 week package "3 in 1" inspection: remove two outer frames, slide three more over to the outside(in a block). 1) Remove a middle frame & check for brood. Maybe you'll spot the queen. 2) Check for supercedure cells. 3) Insert "brood boost" frame of emerging brood. Slide the 3 frames back against the middle, put 1 more back in, and close it up. You've just checked on your queen, checked for queen cells, and given them a much needed brood boost, with very minimal disruption.
    Last edited by Colobee; 05-01-2015 at 10:05 PM.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Read the combs with the sun behind you, just like reading a book. It keeps the light out of your eyes and into the cells so you can read the story more clearly.
    Live real time bee chat, most evenings...
    https://www.rumbletalk.com/client/chat.php?4%40HY_hmJ

  16. #15
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    Scottsdale, AZ, USA
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Some great points here, thanks for sharing.

    Let me share two more...

    - Before handling bees, do not use any sweet smelling cologne, hair spray or any other products. The odor may irritate the bees or attract them.

    - If a bee does get into your clothing, squeeze it in the clothing or walk away from the hives and open up your clothing to allow the bee to escape.
    Paul Reyes the author of : Beekeeping-for-Beginners.Com

  17. #16
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    I would add - Listen. Watching combined with listening to the bees can give you some insight into what is happening in the hive. Once you can associate sounds with circumstances, you can notice any changes and take any necessary action or not. Besides, it's music

  18. #17
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Great points! Watch & listen, before & after an inspection. Then you can equate the two.

    After decades, I can pretty much tell (99% of the time) what is going on inside, by what is happening at the entrance. Especially with numerous established colonies to compare.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    A grease pencil to write on the hive top to note hive conditions is priceless on the next inspection.
    I use a strip of duct tape and a paint pen. Lasts all year and won't wash off or fade.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    Newb here, so I have nothing to add but my thanks to those who are sharing their knowledge.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: The billion little things that make a beekeeper's life easier

    A billion? Really? That's all I will say.
    Mark Berninghausen

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